360/6 review by Rickenbacker

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (50 votes)
Rickenbacker: 360/6

Price paid: $ 500

Purchased from: Friend of a friend

Features — 8
My 360 was made in 1973. Both pickups are original Rickenbacker single coil "Hi-Gain," passive pickups. With a glued neck and some body cavity, the guitar is almost feels like (and is almost playable as) an acoustic. (It is possible to practice on your own without an amp.) Split pickup output available. I rewired the Rick-O-Sound (ROS) pickup split feature so each jack now defaults to mixed output (both PUs), and only splits the output when you plug into both jacks. Floating bridge with individual string compensation adjustment, rests on 4 height/angle adjustment screws. Hooked on "R" tailpiece. With those multiple loose parts, and string hooking into the back of the tailpiece (hidden), string changing can be fiddly. Also, with four support screws for the bridge, one might come loose and give a bit of rattle and/or a wobbly bridge. 3-way PU selector and individual tone and volume for each PU, plus a fifth "mix" knob which is essentially another volume control for the neck pickup (useful for presetting the volume relationship between "lead" and "rhythm" situations).

Sound — 8
The "rick jangle" sound suits my kind of music very well. I changed to .012 flatwound strings which gives a smoother tone, but it is still fairly bright.  I do not play metal or punk rock, but I suspect that the guitar's "bite" and the modest pickup output would make it useless for metal but quite interesting to the punk player. I can get the sounds I need, from airy ringing chords to tight rhythm, clean jazz lead to driven rock'n'roll riffs.  Switch and pots are silent, but the ROS is, in my view, a bad design which caused some noise at cable movement, from poor contact (due to corrosion?) in the "neutral open" switch in the standard (non-ROS) jack. Luckily, this is easy to fix and requires components which are widely available. Single coil pickups are sensitive to electrical noise, and the Rick "high gain" are no exception.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I got the guitar second hand and supposedly nearly unused. After a quick adjustment of the action (bridge heigth) and tightening the pickup mounting screws (PUs nearly hanging loose...), it was perfect (after "hanging on the wall for twenty years", according to the previous owner). If I adjust the action very low, 1st string rattles on the 14th fret, but this is likely caused by an accident (slight dent visible in the fretboard).
I have not adjusted the neck. There is a slight radius (neck curve) when I use the current strings. Haven't checked how it is with lighter strings, but playing-wise it has been fine with string sets from .008 to the current .012.

Reliability & Durability — 8
Guitar has been used a bit on stage, and quite a lot in studio and practice situations. I have never had it fail on me. With ROS the regular jack was a bit noisy, and it was also too easy to plug in the wrong jack, so I rewired it. It now has two mono jacks with "Neutral closed" switches working in parallel, instead of the original mono + stereo with (less reliable) "neutral open" switch. As long as I only plug into one jack, it doesn't matter which one I use. :)

A friend of mine borrowed the guitar for a weekend gig, and complained about "bad bridge pickup". It turned out that the bridge pickup was defective, (totally silent, I suspect that it was "fried" due to wiring trouble in the venue where they played), but winding back a turn of the PU coil and resoldering fixed it. The guitar also got some serious belt buckle marks on the back from that weekend, so I'm not lending it again...
No visible wear on the finish, so I guess that it will last forever.

Overall Impression — 9
I play mostly folk rock, some blues/rock/pop and a little jazz style. While this guitar is not the most versatile I could have, it fills in very well with other instruments, so it is the right one for me. I mostly play this guitar through a Laney VC30-210 combo without effects (other than the amp's reverb), but occasionally with a Zoom 2020 pedalboard in the fx loop. I also sometimes play through a compressor and chorus (Boss CS-3 and CH-1) feeding into the PA. My other guitars are an Ibanez D-340 Dreadnought style acoustic and a Washburn C-40 nylon string. On the Ibanez I use a Dean Markley Pro-Mag soundhole pickup.

I started playing guitar nearly 40 years ago, initially receiving some classical training, and have playing on and off since then, learning various styles. I never really played professionally, only a few gigs in a couple of different settings. Mostly playing only for pleasure with a couple of friends. I really like the fact that the sound of this guitar "finds its own place," not interfering with other instruments or voice. One thing I didn't like was the Rick-O-Sound, so I rewired it. With the original setup it is too easy to plug a standard cable into the stereo jack (effectively shorting one pickup) or stereo cable into the mono jack (yielding noise where I expected music). Were it ever stolen, I'd look for the same type of instrument, but in my current situation I don't think I could justify spending as much on a guitar as a 360 would cost.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    In my review I mentioned the "neck radius". From the context it should be obvious (to anyone so technically minded as to be interested in the matter) that I meant "neck relief", but I thought I'd mention it anyway. I requested editing, but no luck yet...